By Stephanie Ciccarelli
December 14, 2010
Have you ever stopped to think about the ages of voice actors who perform child voice acting roles?
Sometimes the voices you hear in commercials and animation aren't the same age as they sound! A number of voice acting roles are voiced by grownups who either sound like children or who can manipulate their voices to sound younger.
In today's VOX Daily, we're going to take a look at some trends in voice acting where casting is concerned for child roles in animation.
While youth can often be mimicked, sometimes it takes a real child to bring the right blend of innocence and authenticity to a voice over role.
In North America, the trend has been to hire child voice actors to perform in animated films and cartoons. We even have a heritage of casting children to voice significant roles in animation including the casting in 1939 of the then 12 year old Dick Jones as the voice of Walt Disney's Pinocchio. The film was released on February 7, 1940.
Some current examples within the last two decades are Jonathan Taylor Thomas at the age of 13 as Simba in The Lion King (1994), the child cast of voices heard on The Backyardigans, a number of characters in Dora the Explorer and a number of roles on Arthur.
Many of these characters are often recast with younger voices to keep with the child theme, however, in rare cases, a voice actor can still maintain the voice age of their character. The voice actress who plays Muffy on Arthur, Melissa Altro, has been the voice of Muffy for 16 years having first booked the role when she was 12.
In the UK, the trend is to have adults voice child voice roles, for example the series Little Princess featuring Jane Horrocks as the princess. Many of the cartoons I've seen that come out of the UK do feature adult voice overs frequently, whether as narrators or playing the roles of children's voices.
All this being said, there are many voice actors in North America who are capable of sounding like children and teenagers, often booking more challenging roles in commercial, animation and so on. One very popular example of an adult being cast to voice a child character role was when June Foray was the voice of Cindy Lou Who in Dr. Seuss' book How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
There's a book written by animation voice actress and children's voice acting teacher, Sunday Muse that you might find of interest for pint-sized aspiring talent. Sunday's book "You Can Do Cartoon Voices, Too!" is available for sale online. The book comes with a companion training and practice CD.
Additionally, there are some free podcasts via Voice Over Experts that are suitable and enjoyable for children that you can find in Sunday's archives:
If you're keeping your finger on the pulse of children's voice casting or would like to write in about your favourite child voice acting roles, I'd love to hear from you!
Looking forward to your comment,
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